Dr. Lucia McMahon, professor of history at William Paterson University, was honored with the Humanity and Social Sciences (HSS) Teaching Award for her outstanding dedication as an educator.
The award was presented to her on Thursday, March 26 by Dr. Kara Rabbitt, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, shortly after her nomination in early February by a colleague in the History Department. Upon her nomination, McMahon was asked to provide supporting material.
“I decided the most effective measure of my teaching could be measured by my students themselves, and so I reached out to several former students asking them to write in support of my application,” said McMahon.
In her 10 years as an educator at WPU, McMahon has taught a variety of history courses ranging from Early Modern World History to Women’s Studies and Gender. She prides herself on using a variety of methods to engage her students, especially those who major in subjects other than history.
“I strive to engage all students, especially non-majors who are taking a history course primarily to fulfill a UCC requirement, or history majors who perhaps dread the idea of having to write a lengthy research essay,” said McMahon.
Her teaching methods include using slideshows that provide facts, quotes and images, the showing of educational movies and short videos, providing handouts and various reading materials and splitting her classes into small sections for group discussions that later expand into class debates.
“Through close study of interactive maps, primary documents, cultural artifacts and documentary films, students gained new appreciations of the longstanding and complex patterns of trade, culture and politics that shaped the early modern and modern worlds,” said McMahon.
McMahon’s enthusiastic approach towards teaching was inspired by a women’s history professor she had in college. The instructor’s passion towards the subject was so contagious, McMahon’s interest in women’s studies grew.
“As a professor, I have sought to emulate the example of my own undergraduate and graduate school mentors, as I know first-hand the profound inspiration that caring and challenging professors can have on their students,” said McMahon.
Over the course of her illustrious career, she has stumbled upon moments where this method has proven true. Under her tutelage, McMahon’s students have developed a newfound interest in their studies. Through the introduction of thought provoking discussions and debates, she has allowed them to broaden their intellectual horizons.
“In a women’s history course that I taught a few years ago, students submitted a final assignment comparing/contrasting historical advertisements versus those found in modern women’s magazines. Even though the assignment did not require an in-class presentation component, students were so eager to share their findings that we wound up spending the entire 2.5 hours scheduled for the final exam sharing and discussing their projects. As this was a take-home final exam, the students were only required to submit the project and the rest of the take-home assignment on that day. They were the ones who were so enthusiastic about the work they had done that they wanted time and space to share their final projects with each other in class. That high level of student-led learning and engagement is what every professor strives for!”